Advanced Search

Tomb of Horrors (4e)Click to magnify
Full‑size Preview

Tomb of Horrors (4e)


The deadliest dungeon in the D&D world returns!

For generations, the Tomb of Horrors has held an inescapable allure. It draws adventurers to it like a beacon then devours them utterly like some monstrous predator. Within its sepulchral, trap-ridden halls and chambers lay the secrets and treasures of the demilich Acererak and, some say, the demilich himself.

Tomb of Horrors features a modular design that allows Dungeon Masters to build campaigns around the events herein, or pick and choose from the various chapters for use as standalone adventures. It presents a variety of challenges, from intricate combat encounters to traps and tricks evocative of the classic Tomb of Horrors adventure.

This D&D adventure is designed for characters of 10th-22nd level and includes a full-color, double-sided battle map designed for use with D&D Miniatures.

Product History

Tomb of Horrors (2010), by Ari Marmell and Scott Fitzgerald Gray, is the second super-adventure for D&D 4e. It was published in July 2010.

Continuing the 4e Adventures. In the early days of D&D 4e, Wizards put considerable focus on their "HPE" adventure path (2008-2009), publishing nine books in just 18 months. After that, they cut way back on adventure production, limiting it to one setting adventure and one super-adventure a year. Players who wanted more would have to join their Encounters programs (2010-2014), which enjoyed 18 adventures over the next four years.

Wizards' first super-adventure for 4e appeared a year previous: Revenge of the Giants (2009). Tomb of Horrors followed in its gigantic footprints as another 160-page hardcover adventure. However unlike its predecessor, which covered just six levels of adventure, Tomb of Horrors instead covered 12.

How did Tomb of Horrors manage so many more levels in the same number of pages? It's actually split into four parts, which begin play at levels 10, 14, 17, and 22. GMs will need to introduce other adventures in between the four parts (or else jump the characters in levels after each section).

Returning to the Tomb of Horrors. Tomb of Horrors is one of the most classic adventures in the D&D oeuvre. It was originally created by Gary Gygax to torment overly arrogant PCs, then it appeared as one of TSR's first adventures, first with a monochrome cover (1978), then with a color cover (1981), then in the S1-4: Realms of Horror (1987) anthology. Years later, Wizards of the Coast updated the original adventure to 3.5e as a Halloween PDF (2005).

In the meantime, Wizards had also produced a sequel to the adventure, Return to the Tomb of Horrors (1998) by Bruce Cordell. This second adventure was set twenty years after the first and revisited the Tomb in the wake of adventurers looting it. The Black Academy and a necromantic metropolis called Skull City had grown up around the fallen Tomb, and the arch-villain of the original, the demilich Acererak, was revealed to be up to his old tricks.

Though D&D 4e (2008) dramatically revamped D&D's mechanics and its cosmology, it nonetheless was filled with classic D&D lore — moreso than D&D 3e (2000) in many ways. Thus, Open Grave (2009) quickly revisited the story of Acererak — canonizing the fall of the Tomb and the rise of Skull City and Bleak Academy as part of the World Axis cosmology. Even more details appeared simultaneously in Dragon #371 (January 2009). This allowed Gray and Marmell to treat Tomb of Horrors as another sequel — the third part of a trilogy. More time has gone by, and once more Acererak — thought long dead — is rising.

The Tomb of Horrors super-adventure was actually one of two books released nearly simultaneously that touched on the ancient dungeon. Confusingly, the other was also called Tomb of Horrors, but it was only available as part of the D&D DM Rewards Program for RPGA DMs. This shorter adventure revamped the 3.5e version of the original dungeon one more time. Because the 3.5e dungeon had integrated the Bleak Academy background from Return to the Tomb of Horrors, the RPGA adventure could be used as a prequel to the hardcover Tomb of Horrors super-adventure.

Adventure Tropes. The state-of-the-art of adventure design changed a lot between 1978 and 2010. In particular, the original Tomb of Horrors is remembered as a very lethal adventure, where characters die at the drop of a hat, but this wasn't appropriate for the D&D 4e design style — though the designers did include more traps than usual, and even included tips for making those traps more deadly, if the GM wished.

However, the designers felt that the lethality wasn't what make Tomb of Horrors a classic. They felt that its "primary draw" was actually its "style and feel" — that it had become a classic due to its puzzles and its problem-solving. So that's what they tried to replicate in their new adventure, doing their best to meld 4e's skill challenges with the "ingenuity" that Gygax looked for in his players.

The other issue with redesigning the Tomb for 4e was its encounter format for adventures — which made individual encounters much lengthier, and thus provided less opportunity for expansive exploration. This limitation were one of the reasons that the designers opted not to revisit the Tomb in its original form (the other being that it had already been seen in each of the three previous editions of D&D). Nonetheless, there are a total of four new Tombs in 4e's Tomb of Horrors, each with challenges of their own.

Though careful design, they were able to create a fairly innovative 4e adventure that allowed more exploration than most and thus less linearity. As promised there were also more puzzles and, yes, more traps.

Expanding D&D. Published just a month after the Monster Manual 3 (2010), Tomb of Horrors was one of the 4e adventures that featured mixed-monster math. Newer monsters (including the new ones created for this adventure) featured the updated math, but monsters that originated in the original Monster Manuals still featured weaker damage that GMs might want to update.

Expanding the World Axis. The original Tomb of Horrors was set in the world of Greyhawk. Though this super-adventure acts as a sequel to the two adventures that came before it, there's no reference to the adventure's setting. Nonetheless, it's clearly set in the World Axis cosmology that was at the heart of 4e: the designers felt that Cordell's work with other planes in Return to the Tomb of Horrors had helped to "ground" the adventure in the reality of D&D's multiverse, and they wished to do the same here.

Early parts of the adventure take the players to the the Feywild and the Shadowfell, favorite 4e destinations. One of the most prominent locales in the Shadowfell is the city of Moil, a cursed city from Return to the Tomb of Horrors. The finale to the adventure takes place in Nerull's fallen realm of Pluton. This realm was once part of the Gray Waste (Hades) in the Planescape cosmology and had become the lost realm of the dead in 4e's World Axis. The full story of how the Raven Queen replaced Nerull and abandoned Pluton for the Shadowfell had been revealed in Divine Power (2009), but this was the first major appearance of the realm in a 4e supplement.

NPCs of Note. This adventure is all about Acererak, with a full explanation of how he survived Return to the Tomb of Horrors as a vestige, as had been revealed in Tome of Magic: Pact, Shadow, and Truename Magic (2006). However, it also features a few other notable NPCs in supporting roles, including Demogorgon, Nerull, Orcus, and Vecna.

Whoops! The 1e Tomb of Horrors featured a scale where each square was 10 square feet, as was typical in AD&D days. The original Tomb reappears here as The Abandoned Tomb, but the scale is now "1 square = 5 feet" — meaning that Acererak's original Tomb has shrunk to a quarter of its previous size!

Future History. Vecna reappears in Dragon #402 (July 2011), which talks more about his relationship with Acererak. The original Tomb then got an update for the playtest version of D&D 5e in Dungeon #213 (April 2013). It returns to the original 1978 text and the world of Greyhawk.

About the Creators. This was Gray's third adventure for D&D 4e, following coauthorship of E3: "Prince of Undeath" (2009) and "Seekers of the Ashen Crown" (2009); he of course also authored the 4e version of the classic Tomb of Horrors, which was released around the same time. Marmell had also previously been writing for 4e, but this was his first adventure.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (0)
Discussions (3)
Customer avatar
Matt M June 27, 2022 4:01 pm UTC
The full size preview doesn't work. Any chance this could get fixed, please?
Customer avatar
Timothy B September 15, 2017 6:58 pm UTC
This PDF is usually $7.99 on DM's Guild. The September Settings sale has actually increased the price to 33% off of the printed book's cover price, which is higher than the typical PDF price. Is there any way to get this corrected? Thank you.
Customer avatar
Jonathan P February 02, 2017 4:50 pm UTC
Easy to convert to 5e?
Customer avatar
Scott S February 26, 2017 10:16 am UTC
It is being re-released for 5e in April in Tales from the Yawning Portal :)
Customer avatar
Rikel W April 29, 2022 2:15 am UTC
The original was, this version from 4e isnt a 4e conversion for the OG Tomb of Horrors but yet another sequel. There is a 4e conversion of Tomb of Horrors which has a different cover. To answer OP, sorry this reply is 5 years late, but yes 4e Tomb of Horrors is easy to convert to 5e
Browse Categories
$ to $
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!
 Recent History

Product Information
Electrum seller
Rules Edition(s)
File Size:
30.89 MB
Original electronic Click for more information
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Information
Watermarked PDF Click for more information
Watermarked PDF

These PDF files are digitally watermarked to signify that you are the owner. A small message is added to the bottom of each page of the PDF containing your name and the order number of your purchase.

Warning: If any files bearing your information are found being distributed illegally, then your account will be suspended and legal action may be taken against you.

Here is a sample of a page from a watermarked title:

File Last Updated:
August 03, 2015
This title was added to our catalog on August 04, 2015.